Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Selection 2004: Undecided

Is there really anyone “undecided” left in this country when it comes to who they are going to vote for in November?  Myself, I’ve been pretty well decided since, oh, December 2000: Anybody But Bush.  Firmly so since this campaign started, anyway, once we knew for sure that only a Democrat opponent would have a chance of winning and that such could be no worse than Bush.

But what about other people?  Are any of them truly “Undecided”, or is that a myth?  As I think about, they are probably real, but not in the way the term is usually batted around.
  • I suspect that anyone who voted Democrat in 2000 — and most who voted Green (Nader) — is in the “No question” camp.  Polls indicate that there are a number of people who voted for Bush last time who are at least questioning it this time.  So some “Undecideds” are actually “Undecided whether they will vote for Bush again.
  • I’m on record as being less than thrilled with Kerry as a nominee (although no worse than I was with Gore in 2000), but I know that I will swallow and vote for him anyway, as the candidate who will do my pet issues the least harm, and because not voting for him is 1/2 a vote for someone who will do those issues some harm.  I’m sure, however, that there are people who genuinely can’t stand either Kerry or Bush, who think that neither one is good for the country, and thus they are “Undecided whether they will vote for either guy.
  • As we all know, there are many who are apathetic about the entire thing.  This is especially the younger crowd, the ones who are old enough to be cynical without being wise, or who simply don’t care.  These are “Undecided whether they will bother to vote at all.
  • Everyone likes to be a winner, or at least on the winning side.  Look at sports fans, who are gleefully happy if “their team” wins (even when they don’t live where that team is based).  I’m sure there are people out there who just want to say they voted for the winner (or maybe gripe because their candidate didn’t win; sometimes they want griping rights more than a winning candidate, because they know they’ll never be happy with whomever wins).  And thus they are “Undecided which way they will throw their vote until the last minute, when they can see who is apt to be the winner.”

Updated on April 4, 2011

In the Mood for a Hero

While reading The Stranger’s review of Hero — which I hope to see tomorrow night — I caught a side mention of Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung’s prior movie appearance, In the Mood for Love (2000).  And my mini-review of that earlier film:
Maggie Cheung’s ass in this film would be enough to make any man go straight… if she wasn’t wearing so many fabulous dresses.

Updated on April 1, 2011

Friday, August 27, 2004

Selection 2004/Gay Marriage: Pending Amendments

Hidden down at the bottom of a s CNN article (no longer available, try this summary), after all the stuff about the Republican Party convention platform calling for an amendment to ban same-sex civil marriage, is this little tidbit:
On abortion, the proposed platform again calls for a constitutional ban, asserting “the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed.”
You got that?  The Religious Right now sees Constitutional amendments as the best way to forward their agenda.  (Yes, I’m aware that a call for an abortion amendment has been a staple of their platform for several elections, but this time it has company.)  They realize that the weight of law and court precedent is increasingly against them on the gay rights front, on abortion, on stem-cell research, on flag burning, and so on, and thus that their best (perhaps only) option is to do an end-run to where the courts can’t touch them.  (And then presumably stand there, going “Neener-neener!  We win!”)

You want a slippery slope?  This is it.  If any of these controversial amendments pass — just pass Congress, before they ever get to the states — there will be a rush to push all of them through the channel and burst the dam.

One of the primary purposes of the courts is to protect the individual and the minority against the rule of the majority.  This is the right wing’s method of imposing majority rule.

You want something that will destroy our civilization?  Don’t look at gay marriage.  Look at amendments which restrict the rights of minorities.

Updated on August 31, 2004

Updated on March 31, 2011

Friday, August 20, 2004

Go to Hell

This article (originally on CNN, now from another site due to lack of accessible archives) is representative of the problems I have with organized religion.

To summarize: a girl with celiac sprue diseasewiki (wheat gluten intolerance) is being denied the rite of Communion by the Catholic Church.  Church doctrine requires unleavened wheat as part of the communion wafer.

Regardless of what the Catholic Church doctrine says about transubstantiation — that the wafer and wine change into literal body and blood of Christ, which is pretty sick if you think about it — Communion is a symbolic rite.  I doubt anyone really believes that transubstantiation occurs; they have “faith” that it does, but they don’t believe it.  (Someone will surely pipe up and say they do.  No, you don’t; you have been told to believe it, and you’ve accepted that.  That’s what faith is: believing what you’re told to.)

So in the name of holding to Church doctrine, this child is being given a choice: become ill, or do not receive salvation.  That is, risk your health or go to Hell.  What a choice.

(Now, not to judge the entire Church.  Some individual churches are willing to substitute a rice wafer.  But not the one the child’s parents attend: that one invalidated her Communion done at a friendlier church.  And of course the Vatican has already decided the issue, in the negative.)

In the end, it should boil down to this: “What Would Jesus Do?”  Would he tell a child no?  I don’t think so.  Maybe the Church should give some more thought to this.  And maybe adherents to the Catholic faith should give some thought to what they actually have faith in.

Added links on March 24, 2011

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Gay Marriage: Why Gays Get Married

Jonathan Rauch has an opinion piece on gay marriage in the online version of the New York Times.  (May require registration or paywall access; Troy points me to a no-registration version at Independent Gay Forum.)

There is an understated point in here that I find interesting: the idea that being gay and wanting to marry are orthogonal.  Okay, today, when we’re so wrapped up in the pending possibility, that doesn’t seem unusual (although some seem to fear that “married” will become the new gay norm, that those who are not coupled will be shunned).  But before/outside this current spate of marriage fever is a different matter.

We usually think of gays and lesbians who get married (in the straight manner, to people pof the same sex) as denying their orientation.  However, in an orthogonal world, it’s not so much denial as suppression.  For whatever reason, some men and women feel that being married is An Important Thing.  It is something they sincerely want to do/be.  And thus, in the name of achieving this goal, they put aside any same-sex orientation drive they may have and pursue the left turn at Albuquerque.

Of course, drives — sex, hunger, and I’ll propose a “sexual orientation drive” as something distinct from the traditional “sex drive” — can only be idled for so long, and eventually things break down and they have to be addressed.  Which has been the demise of many an opposite sex marriage where suppression has occurred.

So there’s one more reason to favor same-sex civil marriage: it may actually reduce the divorce rate, by allowing those with the need to pursue marriage to do so without the suppression of the sexual orientation drive which tends to tear such things apart.

Updated on August 18, 2004

Updated on March 23, 2011

Friday, August 13, 2004

Talk the Talk

Submitted for your perverse consideration.
My Fair Lady

Professor Henry Higgins, a scholar of language in all its forms, takes in and educates Cockney flower girl Eliza Doolittle, enabling her to pass herself off as a member of the continental nobility.  Despite his protestations to the contrary, Higgins falls for the woman.
Dr. Dolittle

A skilled veterinarian learns to talk to the animals, and sets off to have great adventures involving giant sea snails and the Pushmi-Pullyu.
Goodness, but these two language experts look alike, don’t they?  (That is: they were both played by Rex Harrison, in 1964 and 1967 respectively.)  What if…

Despite realizing his love for Eliza, it is easy to imagine that Henry might never actually marry the woman.  True, it would be a scandal in that age — but so would taking in a Cockney flower girl, after all, and Henry Higgins was never one to care much for what “polite society” thought of him — so it is not hard to imagine Henry and Eliza raising a son out of wedlock.  Or perhaps Eliza eventually realizing that Henry would never actually marry her and departing for another part of England with her son and a comfortable stipend.

Advance time forward a few decades, and witness Eliza’s son (with a single letter change in the surname) becoming a successful veterinarian, undoubtedly with his education and travels funded by the estate of his father. Although the good doctor has never demonstrated a particular interest in the art of language, blood will tell, and when given the opportunity to do so, he readily picks up the ability to “Talk to the Animals.”

(Further, both the above movies have a non-specific Victorian era setting.  With no specific references to place the two films temporally, that period is broad enough to fit the timeline.  At least to the degree of accuracy any Hollywood film of the 1960s manages.)

For extra credit, find other Rex Harrison (or Audrey Hepburn) movies which fit into this concept, where the character is played by the same actor (or actress) and shares sufficient traits to be a relative of Henry (or Eliza).

Comment by “Sterling” on August 24, 2004
I must admit that I really enjoyed your take on the Doolittle names and Hollywood.  Very amusing.  I will place it in the same chapter as demonic advertising and hidden messages in rock music.  (Two other areas I enjoy reading about for a good laugh!)

Pygmalion (1916) by George Bernard Shaw, coined the name Doolittle in 1916.  [The book] was based on commonly known mythology.

Dr. Dolittle was conceived during the 1917-18 war (in the battle at Flanders to be exact) as a reaction to Hugh Lofting seeing Regimental Horses destroyed when wounded.  (The original story was in a letter to small children that he wrote.)  Once Lofting was wounded himself and send back to NYC, he wrote the story to be published in 1920.  The series of books based on the exploits of Dolittle that followed was begun in 1922.

If you would like to ready why the two could not be related by blood (the child of Eliza and Higgins) there is a great scholarly piece on the web to read.
Updated on March 22, 2011
Here’s a second pair of “What if…” character bridges:

In 1899 New York, rebellious and fast-talking Jack Kelly organizes a newsboys strike against the newspapers run by Pulitzer and Hearst.  At the end of the film, he leaves town, looking for new adventures.

In 1912 England, fast-talking American Jack Dawson manages to wrangle his way onto the ill-fated maiden voyage of the Titanic.
Is "Jack Dawson" his real name, or just a convenient pseudonym?  Underneath, the characters are basically the same, and it's not hard at all to postulate a 12 or 13 year age gap between the characters (make Jack Kelly early teens and Jack Dawson mid-20s).

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Gay Marriage: Talking Points

Stanley Kurtz has an opinion piece on gay marriage in the online version of the National Review.

I don’t agree with much of what he has to say, but one point comes out clear and accurate:
Gay marriage is an issue most people prefer to avoid.  The public may oppose gay marriage, but what it really wants is to avoid having to talk about it.
This parallels the well established scenario where people who are against gay rights (of any sort) tend to change (or at least soften) their stance when they have a family member, close friend, or co-worker come out.  Once they have a face to put with the situation, they tend to actually think about it, rather than going with their squicked gut reaction.

That is undoubtedly true for the same-sex civil marriage side of things, too.  The arguments against it start (and pretty much end) with “It’s wrong!!!”  Once people are forced (er, encouraged) to actually think about the issue (if you can get them to think rather than preach), if you can put a face on it, then you’ll find them at least softening their stance.  (The first sign of that being “Well, I guess civil unions might be okay.”)

People are sheep: they want to be herded from one field to the next.  People are metaphoric ostriches, sticking their heads in the sand.  They will pointedly ignore the truth of an issue in favor of repeating other people’s rhetoric.  The best cure for this is personal activism — “Being out is more important than coming out” — so you need to do what you can to make those around you aware that same-sex couples are here, are queer, and deserve the rights, benefits, and responsibilities which every other loving couple gets in our society.

Updated on March 15, 2011